Tue June 23, 2009
Commentary: Throw Some Love to the Legacy Media
By Joe Marren
Buffalo, NY – Pretty soon the sports seasons will change. I don't mean from baseball to football with all its organized team activities, mini camps and draft prognostications ad nauseum. And don't get me started on training camp and exhibition games, which is just a dubiously legal way to separate fans from cash. Think of exhibition games as a bizarre, yet somehow legal, Ponzi scheme: The more tickets the Bills sell here, the better argument we locals can make to keep the team here. Which is a weird payoff considering the team's futility the past decade. But with the extra moola he makes on the games, the Bills' owner can conceivably pay players more moola and make them more content. It's a warm fuzzy for everyone but the fans. And that's unlike another owner who apparently used his bankroll on a state Senate coup instead of on wingers and blue liners. Insert diabolical laughter here.
Why are athletes paid all out of proportion to their contribution to the global good? I don't know, maybe the football players think that since they're in the spotlight year-round they should get paid like their colleagues in the movie and TV biz. It seems more show-biz hype than sports these days. Billy Joel's "The Entertainer" is buzzing through my head right now. And maybe N-B-A players think they should get a couple mil for every inch they grow over 6 feet. Hockey players justify their salaries by reminding us that sports were invented by men, but the lord gave us hockey - Stanley was his name and Don Cherry was his prophet.
So as we read our papers and watch the TV reports on the switch of seasons from the athlete posin' and negotiatin' stage to the signin' stage where they make all those piles of dead prez, we should remember where we got said news. Once, when the biz editor at a newspaper where I used to work asked me how long it would take ME to make what an average utility infielder earns today, I think I came up with seven human lifetimes plus some dog years. I might have been able to count how much former Bills player Jason Peters asked for when he tried to renegotiate, but I don't have the right combination of fingers and toes to work out where all the zeroes would have gone. Someone who can put the biscuit in the basket, or who is as big as a small Italian ve-hickle, is poised for the payday he has been waitin', trainin' and sweatin' for. I don't begrudge him winning the brawny lottery, but I do admit I am as jealous as hell.
When I was a kid I wanted to skip school at good ol' Saint Teresa's Elementary and work on my turn-around jumper at Hillery Playground. But would mom let me? Noooo. I couldn't hit the inside curve if my life and glasses depended on it, but if given the choice between math word problems and B-P, guess where my 'rents and teachers wanted me? Yeah, buried in some book. And what did I get out it? Well, I learned that history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake, but that's the sum total of my education. To be honest, to this day I don't care where two trains will meet if one leaves Rochester and travels west at 50 miles per hour and another leaves the B-Lo and travels east at 80 M-P-H. I say get in your car before gas hits $3 a gal-loon and drive like hell and be done with it.
But before I walk into eternity along Sandymount Strand, I have a modest proposal to make. It's too late for me, there are more paydays behind me than in front of me. Yet I worry about my former profession. The so-called legacy media is in fiscal chaos.
It needs big paydays. It has already tried to find the 5-hole of local coverage and its sweet spot in the convergence paint without any luck. So what do we need to do to help the media survive? Well, you and I each pay 75 cents for the News, we all pay our cable bills to watch the beautifully coiffed and haberdashered anchors, and we donate to public radio when it asks. But is it enough? After all, we don't want to be in the position where the last reader has to recycle the last newspaper. We can't shrug our shoulders and say that truth is nothing but a shout in the street. If the media doesn't tell us, we might as well follow leaders and trust parking meters.
Want to know who is treading the boards or getting paint all over canvas? Well, pick up a copy of Artvoice. Why not? It's free. It will give you artsy news without stylish red jackets. But feeling a little guilty cause it's free? Then next time you win the lottery, throw them a grand or two.
Biz First is fast and feisty with lists, rankings, and the first ins and first outs of finance. So if you're a corporate C-F-O don't be afraid to legally adjust the books to show some appreciation. Hey, go ahead, you can do it, you're the smartest person in the room.
This is Buffalo, we need those weather folks on TV. In April and May, spring for an umbrella for them. It will save them some much-needed cash so they can buy winter radial tires in November.
And those traffic people on radio? Most of them are former students of mine. They get you where you want to go with a minimum of fuss and muss, so why not buy them a tank of gas if you see them at the pump? It will save them money and save me from worrying that they'll be knocking on my door asking to sleep on my couch cause they can't afford their rent.
What else can you do? Easy, send Warren a letter asking him to hire more reporter bees and pay those already toiling here more.
There's lots more we can do. We're the region of good neighbors. If nothing else, thank a reporter today. They get yelled at too often by editors and sources and we take them for granted.
Listener Commentator Joe Marren is an associate professor of communications at Buffalo State College.